The Secrets of the Princesse de Cadignan
Honore de Balzac

Etext prepared by John Bickers,
and Dagny,




Translated By
Katharine Prescott Wormeley


To Theophile Gautier




After the disasters of the revolution of July, which destroyed so many
aristocratic fortunes dependent on the court, Madame la Princesse de
Cadignan was clever enough to attribute to political events the total
ruin she had caused by her own extravagance. The prince left France
with the royal family, and never returned to it, leaving the princess
in Paris, protected by the fact of his absence; for their debts, which
the sale of all their salable property had not been able to
extinguish, could only be recovered through him. The revenues of the
entailed estates had been seized. In short, the affairs of this great
family were in as bad a state as those of the elder branch of the

This woman, so celebrated under her first name of Duchesse de
Maufrigneuse, very wisely decided to live in retirement, and to make
herself, if possible, forgotten. Paris was then so carried away by the
whirling current of events that the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, buried
in the Princesse de Cadignan, a change of name unknown to most of the
new actors brought upon the stage of society by the revolution of
July, did really become a stranger in her own city.

In Paris the title of duke ranks all others, even that of prince;
though, in heraldic theory, free of all sophism, titles signify
nothing; there is absolute equality among gentlemen. This fine
equality was formerly maintained by the House of France itself; and in
our day it is so still, at least, nominally; witness the care with
which the kings of France give to their sons the simple title of
count. It was in virtue of this system that Francois I. crushed the
splendid titles assumed by the pompous Charles the Fifth, by signing
his answer: "Francois, seigneur de Vanves." Louis XI. did better still
by marrying his daughter to an untitled gentleman, Pierre de Beaujeu.
The feudal system was so thoroughly broken up by Louis XIV. that the
title of duke became, during his reign, the supreme honor of the
aristocracy, and the most coveted.

Nevertheless there are two or three families in France in which the
principality, richly endowed in former times, takes precedence of the
duchy. The house of Cadignan, which possesses the title of Duc de
Maufrigneuse for its eldest sons, is one of these exceptional
families. Like the princes of the house of Rohan in earlier days, the
princes of Cadignan had the right to a throne in their own domain;
they could have pages and gentlemen in their service. This explanation
is necessary, as much to escape foolish critics who know nothing, as
to record the customs of a world which, we are told, is about to
disappear, and which, evidently, so many persons are assisting to push
away without knowing what it is.

The Cadignans bear: or, five lozenges sable appointed, placed fess-
wise, with the word "Memini" for motto, a crown with a cap of
maintenance, no supporters or mantle. In these days the great crowd of
strangers flocking to Paris, and the almost universal ignorance of the
science of heraldry, are beginning to bring the title of prince into
fashion. There are no real princes but those possessed of
principalities, to whom belongs the title of highness. The disdain
shown by the French nobility for the title of prince, and the reasons
which caused Louis XIV. to give supremacy to the title of duke, have
prevented Frenchmen from claiming the appellation of "highness" for
the few princes who exist in France, those of Napoleon excepted. This
is why the princes of Cadignan hold an inferior position, nominally,
to the princes of the continent.

The members of the society called the faubourg Saint-Germain protected
the princess by a respectful silence due to her name, which is one of
those that all men honor, to her misfortunes, which they ceased to
discuss, and to her beauty, the only thing she saved of her departed
opulence. Society, of which she had once been the ornament, was
thankful to her for having, as it were, taken the veil, and cloistered
herself in her own home. This act of good taste was for her, more than
for any other woman, an immense sacrifice. Great deeds are always so
keenly felt in France that the princess gained, by her retreat, as
much as she had lost in public opinion in the days of her splendor.

She now saw only one of her old friends, the Marquise d'Espard, and
even to her she never went on festive occasions or to parties. The
princess and the marquise visited each other in the forenoons, with a
certain amount of secrecy. When the princess went to dine with her
friend, the marquise closed her doors. Madame d'Espard treated the
princess charmingly; she changed her box at the opera, leaving the
first tier for a baignoire on the ground-floor, so that Madame de
Cadignan could come to the theatre unseen, and depart incognito. Few
women would have been capable of a delicacy which deprived them of the
pleasure of bearing in their train a fallen rival, and of publicly
being her benefactress. Thus relieved of the necessity for costly
toilets, the princess could enjoy the theatre, whither she went in
Madame d'Espard's carriage, which she would never have accepted openly
in the daytime. No one has ever known Madame d'Espard's reasons for
behaving thus to the Princesse de Cadignan; but her conduct was
admirable, and for a long time included a number of little acts which,
viewed single, seem mere trifles, but taken in the mass become

In 1832, three years had thrown a mantle of snow over the follies and
adventures of the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, and had whitened them so
thoroughly that it now required a serious effort of memory to recall
them. Of the queen once adored by so many courtiers, and whose follies
might have given a theme to a variety of novels, there remained a
woman still adorably beautiful, thirty-six years of age, but quite
justified in calling herself thirty, although she was the mother of
Duc Georges de Maufrigneuse, a young man of eighteen, handsome as
Antinous, poor as Job, who was expected to obtain great successes, and
for whom his mother desired, above all things, to find a rich wife.
Perhaps this hope was the secret of the intimacy she still kept up
with the marquise, in whose salon, which was one of the first in
Paris, she might eventually be able to choose among many heiresses for
Georges' wife. The princess saw five years between the present moment
and her son's marriage,--five solitary and desolate years; for, in
order to obtain such a marriage for her son, she knew that her own
conduct must be marked in the corner with discretion.

The princess lived in the rue de Miromesnil, in a small house, of
which she occupied the ground-floor at a moderate rent. There she made
the most of the relics of her past magnificence. The elegance of the
great lady was still redolent about her. She was still surrounded by
beautiful things which recalled her former existence. On her chimney-
piece was a fine miniature portrait of Charles X., by Madame Mirbel,
beneath which were engraved the words, "Given by the King"; and, as a
pendant, the portrait of "Madame", who was always her kind friend. On
a table lay an album of costliest price, such as none of the
bourgeoises who now lord it in our industrial and fault-finding
society would have dared to exhibit. This album contained portraits,
about thirty in number, of her intimate friends, whom the world, first
and last, had given her as lovers. The number was a calumny; but had
rumor said ten, it might have been, as her friend Madame d'Espard
remarked, good, sound gossip. The portraits of Maxime de Trailles, de
Marsay, Rastignac, the Marquis d'Esgrignon, General Montriveau, the
Marquis de Ronquerolles and d'Ajuda-Pinto, Prince Galathionne, the
young Ducs de Grandlieu and de Rhetore, the Vicomte de Serizy, and the
handsome Lucien de Rubempre, had all been treated with the utmost
coquetry of brush and pencil by celebrated artists. As the princess
now received only two or three of these personages, she called the
book, jokingly, the collection of her errors.

Misfortune had made this woman a good mother. During the fifteen years
of the Restoration she had amused herself far too much to think of her
son; but on taking refuge in obscurity, this illustrious egoist
bethought her that the maternal sentiment, developed to its extreme,
might be an absolution for her past follies in the eyes of sensible
persons, who pardon everything to a good mother. She loved her son all
the more because she had nothing else to love. Georges de Maufrigneuse
was, moreover, one of those children who flatter the vanities of a
mother; and the princess had, accordingly, made all sorts of
sacrifices for him. She hired a stable and coach-house, above which he
lived in a little entresol with three rooms looking on the street, and
charmingly furnished; she had even borne several privations to keep a
saddle-horse, a cab-horse, and a little groom for his use. For
herself, she had only her own maid, and as cook, a former kitchen-
maid. The duke's groom had, therefore, rather a hard place. Toby,
formerly tiger to the "late" Beaudenord (such was the jesting term
applied by the gay world to that ruined gentleman),--Toby, who at
twenty-five years of age was still considered only fourteen, was
expected to groom the horses, clean the cabriolet, or the tilbury, and
the harnesses, accompany his master, take care of the apartments, and
be in the princess's antechamber to announce a visitor, if, by chance,
she happened to receive one.

When one thinks of what the beautiful Duchesse de Maufrigneuse had
been under the Restoration,--one of the queens of Paris, a dazzling
queen, whose luxurious existence equalled that of the richest women of
fashion in London,--there was something touching in the sight of her
in that humble little abode in the rue de Miromesnil, a few steps away
from her splendid mansion, which no amount of fortune had enabled her
to keep, and which the hammer of speculators has since demolished. The
woman who thought she was scarcely well served by thirty servants, who
possessed the most beautiful reception-rooms in all Paris, and the
loveliest little private apartments, and who made them the scene of
such delightful fetes, now lived in a small apartment of five rooms,--
an antechamber, dining-room, salon, one bed-chamber, and a dressing-
room, with two women-servants only.

"Ah! she is devoted to her son," said that clever creature, Madame
d'Espard, "and devoted without ostentation; she is happy. Who would
ever have believed so frivolous a woman was capable of such persistent
resolution! Our good archbishop has, consequently, greatly encouraged
her; he is most kind to her, and has just induced the old Comtesse de
Cinq-Cygne to pay her a visit."

Let us admit a truth! One must be a queen to know how to abdicate, and
to descend with dignity from a lofty position which is never wholly
lost. Those only who have an inner consciousness of being nothing in
themselves, show regrets in falling, or struggle, murmuring, to return
to a past which can never return,--a fact of which they themselves are
well aware. Compelled to do without the choice exotics in the midst of
which she had lived, and which set off so charmingly her whole being
(for it is impossible not to compare her to a flower), the princess
had wisely chosen a ground-floor apartment; there she enjoyed a pretty
little garden which belonged to it,--a garden full of shrubs, and an
always verdant turf, which brightened her peaceful retreat. She had
about twelve thousand francs a year; but that modest income was partly
made up of an annual stipend sent her by the old Duchesse de
Navarreins, paternal aunt of the young duke, and another stipend given
by her mother, the Duchesse d'Uxelles, who was living on her estate in
the country, where she economized as old duchesses alone know how to
economize; for Harpagon is a mere novice compared to them. The
princess still retained some of her past relations with the exiled
royal family; and it was in her house that the marshal to whom we owe
the conquest of Africa had conferences, at the time of "Madame's"
attempt in La Vendee, with the principal leaders of legitimist
opinion,--so great was the obscurity in which the princess lived, and
so little distrust did the government feel for her in her present

Beholding the approach of that terrible fortieth year, the bankruptcy
of love, beyond which there is so little for a woman as woman, the
princess had flung herself into the kingdom of philosophy. She took to
reading, she who for sixteen years had felt a cordial horror for
serious things. Literature and politics are to-day what piety and
devotion once were to her sex,--the last refuge of their feminine
pretensions. In her late social circle it was said that Diane was
writing a book. Since her transformation from a queen and beauty to a
woman of intellect, the princess had contrived to make a reception in
her little house a great honor which distinguished the favored person.
Sheltered by her supposed occupation, she was able to deceive one of
her former adorers, de Marsay, the most influential personage of the
political bourgeoisie brought to the fore in July 1830. She received
him sometimes in the evenings, and, occupied his attention while the
marshal and a few legitimists were talking, in a low voice, in her
bedroom, about the recovery of power, which could be attained only by
a general co-operation of ideas,--the one element of success which all
conspirators overlook. It was the clever vengeance of the pretty
woman, who thus inveigled the prime minister, and made him act as
screen for a conspiracy against his own government.

This adventure, worthy of the finest days of the Fronde, was the text
of a very witty letter, in which the princess rendered to "Madame" an
account of the negotiations. The Duc de Maufrigneuse went to La
Vendee, and was able to return secretly without being compromised, but
not without taking part in "Madame's" perils; the latter, however,
sent him home the moment she saw that her cause was lost. Perhaps, had
he remained, the eager vigilance of the young man might have foiled
that treachery. However great the faults of the Duchesse de
Maufrigneuse may have seemed in the eyes of the bourgeoisie, the
behavior of her son on this occasion certainly effaced them in the
eyes of the aristocracy. There was great nobility and grandeur in thus
risking her only son, and the heir of an historic name. Some persons
are said to intentionally cover the faults of their private life by
public services, and vice versa; but the Princesse de Cadignan made no
such calculation. Possibly those who apparently so conduct themselves
make none. Events count for much in such cases.

On one of the first fine days in the month of May, 1833, the Marquise
d'Espard and the princess were turning about--one could hardly call it
walking--in the single path which wound round the grass-plat in the
garden, about half-past two in the afternoon, just as the sun was
leaving it. The rays reflected on the walls gave a warm atmosphere to
the little space, which was fragrant with flowers, the gift of the

"We shall soon lose de Marsay," said the marquise; "and with him will
disappear your last hope of fortune for your son. Ever since you
played him that clever trick, he has returned to his affection for

"My son will never capitulate to the younger branch," returned the
princess, "if he has to die of hunger, or I have to work with my hands
to feed him. Besides, Berthe de Cinq-Cygne has no aversion to him."

"Children don't bind themselves to their parents' principles," said
Madame d'Espard.

"Don't let us talk about it," said the princess. "If I can't coax over
the Marquise de Cinq-Cygne, I shall marry Georges to the daughter of
some iron-founderer, as that little d'Esgrignon did."

"Did you love Victurnien?" asked the marquise.

"No," replied the princess, gravely, "d'Esgrignon's simplicity was
really only a sort of provincial silliness, which I perceived rather
too late--or, if you choose, too soon."

"And de Marsay?"

"De Marsay played with me as if I were a doll. I was so young at the
time! We never love men who pretend to teach us; they rub up all our
little vanities."

"And that wretched boy who hanged himself?"

"Lucien? An Antinous and a great poet. I worshiped him in all
conscience, and I might have been happy. But he was in love with a
girl of the town; and I gave him up to Madame. de Serizy. . . . If he
had cared to love me, should I have given him up?"

"What an odd thing, that you should come into collision with an Esther!"

"She was handsomer than I," said the Princess.--"Very soon it shall be
three years that I have lived in solitude," she resumed, after a
pause, "and this tranquillity has nothing painful to me about it. To
you alone can I dare to say that I feel I am happy. I was surfeited
with adoration, weary of pleasure, emotional on the surface of things,
but conscious that emotion itself never reached my heart. I have found
all the men whom I have known petty, paltry, superficial; none of them
ever caused me a surprise; they had no innocence, no grandeur, no
delicacy. I wish I could have met with one man able to inspire me with

"Then are you like me, my dear?" asked the marquise; "have you never
felt the emotion of love while trying to love?"

"Never," replied the princess, laying her hand on the arm of her

They turned and seated themselves on a rustic bench beneath a jasmine
then coming into flower. Each had uttered one of those sayings that
are solemn to women who have reached their age.

"Like you," resumed the princess, "I have received more love than most
women; but through all my many adventures, I have never found
happiness. I committed great follies, but they had an object, and that
object retreated as fast as I approached it. I feel to-day in my
heart, old as it is, an innocence which has never been touched. Yes,
under all my experience, lies a first love intact,--just as I myself,
in spite of all my losses and fatigues, feel young and beautiful. We
may love and not be happy; we may be happy and never love; but to love
and be happy, to unite those two immense human experiences, is a
miracle. That miracle has not taken place for me."

"Nor for me," said Madame d'Espard.

"I own I am pursued in this retreat by dreadful regret: I have amused
myself all through life, but I have never loved."

"What an incredible secret!" cried the marquise.

"Ah! my dear," replied the princess, "such secrets we can tell to
ourselves, you and I, but nobody in Paris would believe us."

"And," said the marquise, "if we were not both over thirty-six years
of age, perhaps we would not tell them to each other."

"Yes; when women are young they have so many stupid conceits," replied
the princess. "We are like those poor young men who play with a
toothpick to pretend they have dined."

"Well, at any rate, here we are!" said Madame d'Espard, with
coquettish grace, and a charming gesture of well-informed innocence;
"and, it seems to me, sufficiently alive to think of taking our

"When you told me, the other day, that Beatrix had gone off with
Conti, I thought of it all night long," said the princess, after a
pause. "I suppose there was happiness in sacrificing her position, her
future, and renouncing society forever."

"She was a little fool," said Madame d'Espard, gravely. "Mademoiselle
des Touches was delighted to get rid of Conti. Beatrix never perceived
how that surrender, made by a superior woman who never for a moment
defended her claims, proved Conti's nothingness."

"Then you think she will be unhappy?"

"She is so now," replied Madame d'Espard. "Why did she leave her
husband? What an acknowledgment of weakness!"

"Then you think that Madame de Rochefide was not influenced by the
desire to enjoy a true love in peace?" asked the princess.

"No; she was simply imitating Madame de Beausant and Madame de
Langeais, who, be it said, between you and me, would have been, in a
less vulgar period than ours, the La Villiere, the Diane de Poitiers,
the Gabrielle d'Estrees of history."

"Less the king, my dear. Ah! I wish I could evoke the shades of those
women, and ask them--"

"But," said the marquise, interrupting the princess, "why ask the
dead? We know living women who have been happy. I have talked on this
very subject a score of times with Madame de Montcornet since she
married that little Emile Blondet, who makes her the happiest woman in
the world; not an infidelity, not a thought that turns aside from her;
they are as happy as they were the first day. These long attachments,
like that of Rastignac and Madame de Nucingen, and your cousin, Madame
de Camps, for her Octave, have a secret, and that secret you and I
don't know, my dear. The world has paid us the extreme compliment of
thinking we are two rakes worthy of the court of the regent; whereas
we are, in truth, as innocent as a couple of school-girls."

"I should like that sort of innocence," cried the princess, laughing;
"but ours is worse, and it is very humiliating. Well, it is a
mortification we offer up in expiation of our fruitless search; yes,
my dear, fruitless, for it isn't probable we shall find in our autumn
season the fine flower we missed in the spring and summer."

"That's not the question," resumed the marquise, after a meditative
pause. "We are both still beautiful enough to inspire love, but we
could never convince any one of our innocence and virtue."

"If it were a lie, how easy to dress it up with commentaries, and
serve it as some delicious fruit to be eagerly swallowed! But how is
it possible to get a truth believed? Ah! the greatest of men have been
mistaken there!" added the princess, with one of those meaning smiles
which the pencil of Leonardo da Vinci alone has rendered.

"Fools love well, sometimes," returned the marquise.

"But in this case," said the princess, "fools wouldn't have enough
credulity in their nature."

"You are right," said the marquise. "But what we ought to look for is
neither a fool nor even a man of talent. To solve our problem we need
a man of genius. Genius alone has the faith of childhood, the religion
of love, and willingly allows us to band its eyes. Look at Canalis and
the Duchesse de Chaulieu! Though we have both encountered men of
genius, they were either too far removed from us or too busy, and we
too absorbed, too frivolous."

"Ah! how I wish I might not leave this world without knowing the
happiness of true love," exclaimed the princess.

"It is nothing to inspire it," said Madame d'Espard; "the thing is to
feel it. I see many women who are only the pretext for a passion
without being both its cause and its effect."

"The last love I inspired was a beautiful and sacred thing," said the
princess. "It had a future in it. Chance had brought me, for once in a
way, the man of genius who is due to us, and yet so difficult to
obtain; there are more pretty women than men of genius. But the devil
interfered with the affair."

"Tell me about it, my dear; this is all news to me."

"I first noticed this beautiful passion about the middle of the winter
of 1829. Every Friday, at the opera, I observed a young man, about
thirty years of age, in the orchestra stalls, who evidently came there
for me. He was always in the same stall, gazing at me with eyes of
fire, but, seemingly, saddened by the distance between us, perhaps by
the hopelessness of reaching me."

"Poor fellow! When a man loves he becomes eminently stupid," said the

"Between every act he would slip into the corridor," continued the
princess, smiling at her friend's epigrammatic remark. "Once or twice,
either to see me or to make me see him, he looked through the glass
sash of the box exactly opposite to mine. If I received a visit, I was
certain to see him in the corridor close to my door, casting a furtive
glance upon me. He had apparently learned to know the persons
belonging to my circle; and he followed them when he saw them turning
in the direction of my box, in order to obtain the benefit of the
opening door. I also found my mysterious adorer at the Italian opera-
house; there he had a stall directly opposite to my box, where he
could gaze at me in naive ecstasy--oh! it was pretty! On leaving
either house I always found him planted in the lobby, motionless; he
was elbowed and jostled, but he never moved. His eyes grew less
brilliant if he saw me on the arm of some favorite. But not a word,
not a letter, no demonstration. You must acknowledge that was in good
taste. Sometimes, on getting home late at night, I found him sitting
upon one of the stone posts of the porte-cochere. This lover of mine
had very handsome eyes, a long, thick, fan-shaped beard, with a
moustache and side-whiskers; nothing could be seen of his skin but his
white cheek-bones, and a noble forehead; it was truly an antique head.
The prince, as you know, defended the Tuileries on the riverside,
during the July days. He returned to Saint-Cloud that night, when all
was lost, and said to me: 'I came near being killed at four o'clock. I
was aimed at by one of the insurgents, when a young man, with a long
beard, whom I have often seen at the opera, and who was leading the
attack, threw up the man's gun, and saved me.' So my adorer was
evidently a republican! In 1831, after I came to lodge in this house,
I found him, one day, leaning with his back against the wall of it; he
seemed pleased with my disasters; possibly he may have thought they
drew us nearer together. But after the affair of Saint-Merri I saw him
no more; he was killed there. The evening before the funeral of
General Lamarque, I had gone out on foot with my son, and my
republican accompanied us, sometimes behind, sometimes in front, from
the Madeleine to the Passage des Panoramas, where I was going."

"Is that all?" asked the marquise.

"Yes, all," replied the princess. "Except that on the morning Saint-
Merri was taken, a gamin came here and insisted on seeing me. He gave
me a letter, written on common paper, signed by my republican."

"Show it to me," said the marquise.

"No, my dear. Love was too great and too sacred in the heart of that
man to let me violate its secrets. The letter, short and terrible,
still stirs my soul when I think of it. That dead man gives me more
emotions than all the living men I ever coquetted with; he constantly
recurs to my mind."

"What was his name?" asked the marquise.

"Oh! a very common one: Michel Chrestien."

"You have done well to tell me," said Madame d'Espard, eagerly. "I
have often heard of him. This Michel Chrestien was the intimate friend
of a remarkable man you have already expressed a wish to see,--Daniel
d'Arthez, who comes to my house some two or three times a year.
Chrestien, who was really killed at Saint-Merri, had no lack of
friends. I have heard it said that he was one of those born statesmen
to whom, like de Marsay, nothing is wanting but opportunity to become
all they might be."

"Then he had better be dead," said the princess, with a melancholy
air, under which she concealed her thoughts.

"Will you come to my house some evening and meet d'Arthez?" said the
marquise. "You can talk of your ghost."

"Yes, I will," replied the princess.



A few days after this conversation Blondet and Rastignac, who knew
d'Arthez, promised Madame d'Espard that they would bring him to dine
with her. This promise might have proved rash had it not been for the
name of the princess, a meeting with whom was not a matter of
indifference to the great writer.

Daniel d'Arthez, one of the rare men who, in our day, unite a noble
character with great talent, had already obtained, not all the
popularity his works deserve, but a respectful esteem to which souls
of his own calibre could add nothing. His reputation will certainly
increase; but in the eyes of connoisseurs it had already attained its
full development. He is one of those authors who, sooner or later, are
put in their right place, and never lose it. A poor nobleman, he had
understood his epoch well enough to seek personal distinction only. He
had struggled long in the Parisian arena, against the wishes of a rich
uncle who, by a contradiction which vanity must explain, after leaving
his nephew a prey to the utmost penury, bequeathed to the man who had
reached celebrity the fortune so pitilessly refused to the unknown
writer. This sudden change in his position made no change in Daniel
d'Arthez's habits; he continued to work with a simplicity worthy of
the antique past, and even assumed new toils by accepting a seat in
the Chamber of Deputies, where he took his seat on the Right.

Since his accession to fame he had sometimes gone into society. One of
his old friends, the now-famous physician, Horace Bianchon, persuaded
him to make the acquaintance of the Baron de Rastignac, under-
secretary of State, and a friend of de Marsay, the prime minister.
These two political officials acquiesced, rather nobly, in the strong
wish of d'Arthez, Bianchon, and other friends of Michel Chrestien for
the removal of the body of that republican to the church of Saint-
Merri for the purpose of giving it funeral honors. Gratitude for a
service which contrasted with the administrative rigor displayed at a
time when political passions were so violent, had bound, so to speak,
d'Arthez to Rastignac. The latter and de Marsay were much too clever
not to profit by that circumstance; and thus they won over other
friends of Michel Chrestien, who did not share his political opinions,
and who now attached themselves to the new government. One of them,
Leon Giraud, appointed in the first instance master of petitions,
became eventually a Councillor of State.

The whole existence of Daniel d'Arthez is consecrated to work; he sees
society only by snatches; it is to him a sort of dream. His house is a
convent, where he leads the life of a Benedictine; the same sobriety
of regimen, the same regularity of occupation. His friends knew that
up to the present time woman had been to him no more than an always
dreaded circumstance; he had observed her too much not to fear her;
but by dint of studying her he had ceased to understand her,--like, in
this, to those deep strategists who are always beaten on unexpected
ground, where their scientific axioms are either modified or
contradicted. In character he still remains a simple-hearted child,
all the while proving himself an observer of the first rank. This
contrast, apparently impossible, is explainable to those who know how
to measure the depths which separate faculties from feelings; the
former proceed from the head, the latter from the heart. A man can be
a great man and a wicked one, just as he can be a fool and a devoted
lover. D'Arthez is one of those privileged beings in whom shrewdness
of mind and a broad expanse of the qualities of the brain do not
exclude either the strength or the grandeur of sentiments. He is, by
rare privilege, equally a man of action and a man of thought. His
private life is noble and generous. If he carefully avoided love, it
was because he knew himself, and felt a premonition of the empire such
a passion would exercise upon him.

For several years the crushing toil by which he prepared the solid
ground of his subsequent works, and the chill of poverty, were
marvellous preservatives. But when ease with his inherited fortune
came to him, he formed a vulgar and most incomprehensible connection
with a rather handsome woman, belonging to the lower classes, without
education or manners, whom he carefully concealed from every eye.
Michel Chrestien attributed to men of genius the power of transforming
the most massive creatures into sylphs, fools into clever women,
peasants into countesses; the more accomplished a woman was, the more
she lost her value in their eyes, for, according to Michel, their
imagination had the less to do. In his opinion love, a mere matter of
the senses to inferior beings, was to great souls the most immense of
all moral creations and the most binding. To justify d'Arthez, he
instanced the example of Raffaele and the Fornarina. He might have
offered himself as an instance for this theory, he who had seen an
angel in the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse. This strange fancy of d'Arthez
might, however, be explained in other ways; perhaps he had despaired
of meeting here below with a woman who answered to that delightful
vision which all men of intellect dream of and cherish; perhaps his
heart was too sensitive, too delicate, to yield itself to a woman of
society; perhaps he thought best to let nature have her way, and keep
his illusions by cultivating his ideal; perhaps he had laid aside love
as being incompatible with his work and the regularity of a monastic
life which love would have wholly upset.

For several months past d'Arthez had been subjected to the jests and
satire of Blondet and Rastignac, who reproached him with knowing
neither the world nor women. According to them, his authorship was
sufficiently advanced, and his works numerous enough, to allow him a
few distractions; he had a fine fortune, and here he was living like a
student; he enjoyed nothing,--neither his money nor his fame; he was
ignorant of the exquisite enjoyments of the noble and delicate love
which well-born and well-bred women could inspire and feel; he knew
nothing of the charming refinements of language, nothing of the proofs
of affection incessantly given by refined women to the commonest
things. He might, perhaps, know woman; but he knew nothing of the
divinity. Why not take his rightful place in the world, and taste the
delights of Parisian society?

"Why doesn't a man who bears party per bend gules and or, a bezant and
crab counterchanged," cried Rastignac, "display that ancient
escutcheon of Picardy on the panels of a carriage? You have thirty
thousand francs a year, and the proceeds of your pen; you have
justified your motto: Ars thesaurusque virtus, that punning device our
ancestors were always seeking, and yet you never appear in the Bois de
Boulogne! We live in times when virtue ought to show itself."

"If you read your works to that species of stout Laforet, whom you
seem to fancy, I would forgive you," said Blondet. "But, my dear
fellow, you are living on dry bread, materially speaking; in the
matter of intellect you haven't even bread."

This friendly little warfare had been going on for several months
between Daniel and his friends, when Madame d'Espard asked Rastignac
and Blondet to induce d'Arthez to come and dine with her, telling them
that the Princesse de Cadignan had a great desire to see that
celebrated man. Such curiosities are to certain women what magic
lanterns are to children,--a pleasure to the eyes, but rather shallow
and full of disappointments. The more sentiments a man of talent
excites at a distance, the less he responds to them on nearer view;
the more brilliant fancy has pictured him, the duller he will seem in
reality. Consequently, disenchanted curiosity is often unjust.

Neither Blondet nor Rastignac could deceive d'Arthez; but they told
him, laughing, that they now offered him a most seductive opportunity
to polish up his heart and know the supreme fascinations which love
conferred on a Parisian great lady. The princess was evidently in love
with him; he had nothing to fear but everything to gain by accepting
the interview; it was quite impossible he could descend from the
pedestal on which madame de Cadignan had placed him. Neither Blondet
nor Rastignac saw any impropriety in attributing this love to the
princess; she whose past had given rise to so many anecdotes could
very well stand that lesser calumny. Together they began to relate to
d'Arthez the adventures of the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse: her first
affair with de Marsay; her second with d'Ajuda, whom she had, they
said, distracted from his wife, thus avenging Madame de Beausant; also
her later connection with young d'Esgrignon, who had travelled with
her in Italy, and had horribly compromised himself on her account;
after that they told him how unhappy she had been with a certain
celebrated ambassador, how happy with a Russian general, besides
becoming the Egeria of two ministers of Foreign affairs, and various
other anecdotes. D'Arthez replied that he knew a great deal more than
they could tell him about her through their poor friend, Michel
Chrestien, who adored her secretly for four years, and had well-nigh
gone mad about her.

"I have often accompanied him," said Daniel, "to the opera. He would
make me run through the streets as far as her horses that he might see
the princess through the window of her coupe."

"Well, there you have a topic all ready for you," said Blondet,
smiling. "This is the very woman you need; she'll initiate you most
gracefully into the mysteries of elegance; but take care! she has
wasted many fortunes. The beautiful Diane is one of those spendthrifts
who don't cost a penny, but for whom a man spends millions. Give
yourself up to her, body and soul, if you choose; but keep your money
in your hand, like the old fellow in Girodet's 'Deluge.'"

From the tenor of these remarks it was to be inferred that the
princess had the depth of a precipice, the grace of a queen, the
corruption of diplomatists, the mystery of a first initiation, and the
dangerous qualities of a siren. The two clever men of the world,
incapable of foreseeing the denouement of their joke, succeeded in
presenting Diane d'Uxelles as a consummate specimen of the Parisian
woman, the cleverest of coquettes, the most enchanting mistress in the
world. Right or wrong, the woman whom they thus treated so lightly was
sacred to d'Arthez; his desire to meet her needed no spur; he
consented to do so at the first word, which was all the two friends
wanted of him.

Madame d'Espard went to see the princess as soon as she had received
this answer.

"My dear, do you feel yourself in full beauty and coquetry?" she said.
"If so, come and dine with me a few days hence, and I'll serve up
d'Arthez. Our man of genius is by nature, it seems, a savage; he fears
women, and has never loved! Make your plans on that. He is all
intellect, and so simple that he'll mislead you into feeling no
distrust. But his penetration, which is wholly retrospective, acts
later, and frustrates calculation. You may hoodwink him to-day, but
to-morrow nothing can dupe him."

"Ah!" cried the princess, "if I were only thirty years old what
amusement I might have with him! The one enjoyment I have lacked up to
the present is a man of intellect to fool. I have had only partners,
never adversaries. Love was a mere game instead of being a battle."

"Dear princess, admit that I am very generous; for, after all, you
know!--charity begins at home."

The two women looked at each other, laughing, and clasped hands in a
friendly way. Assuredly they both knew each other's secrets, and this
was not the first man nor the first service that one had given to the
other; for sincere and lasting friendships between women of the world
need to be cemented by a few little crimes. When two friends are
liable to kill each other reciprocally, and see a poisoned dagger in
each other's hand, they present a touching spectacle of harmony, which
is never troubled, unless, by chance, one of them is careless enough
to drop her weapon.

So, eight days later, a little dinner such as are given to intimates
by verbal invitation only, during which the doors are closed to all
other visitors, took place at Madame d'Espard's house. Five persons
were invited,--Emile Blondet and Madame de Montcornet, Daniel
d'Arthez, Rastignac, and the Princesse de Cadignan. Counting the
mistress of the house, there were as many men as women.

Chance never exerted itself to make wiser preparations than those
which opened the way to a meeting between d'Arthez and Madame de
Cadignan. The princess is still considered one of the chief
authorities on dress, which, to women, is the first of arts. On this
occasion she wore a gown of blue velvet with flowing white sleeves,
and a tulle guimpe, slightly frilled and edged with blue, covering the
shoulders, and rising nearly to the throat, as we see in several of
Raffaele's portraits. Her maid had dressed her hair with white
heather, adroitly placed among its blond cascades, which were one of
the great beauties to which she owed her celebrity.

Certainly Diane did not look to be more than twenty-five years old.
Four years of solitude and repose had restored the freshness of her
complexion. Besides, there are moments when the desire to please gives
an increase of beauty to women. The will is not without influence on
the variations of the face. If violent emotions have the power to
yellow the white tones of persons of bilious and melancholy
temperament, and to green lymphatic faces, shall we not grant to
desire, hope, and joy, the faculty of clearing the skin, giving
brilliancy to the eye, and brightening the glow of beauty with a light
as jocund as that of a lovely morning? The celebrated faintness of the
princess had taken on a ripeness which now made her seem more august.
At this moment of her life, impressed by her many vicissitudes and by
serious reflections, her noble, dreamy brow harmonized delightfully
with the slow, majestic glance of her blue eyes. It was impossible for
the ablest physiognomist to imagine calculation or self-will beneath
that unspeakable delicacy of feature. There were faces of women which
deceive knowledge, and mislead observation by their calmness and
delicacy; it is necessary to examine such faces when passions speak,
and that is difficult, or after they have spoken, which is no longer
of any use, for then the woman is old and has ceased to dissimulate.

The princess is one of those impenetrable women; she can make herself
what she pleases to be: playful, childlike, distractingly innocent; or
reflective, serious, and profound enough to excite anxiety. She came
to Madame d'Espard's dinner with the intention of being a gentle,
simple woman, to whom life was known only through its deceptions: a
woman full of soul, and calumniated, but resigned,--in short, a
wounded angel.

She arrived early, so as to pose on a sofa near the fire beside Madame
d'Espard, as she wished to be first seen: that is, in one of those
attitudes in which science is concealed beneath an exquisite
naturalness; a studied attitude, putting in relief the beautiful
serpentine outline which, starting from the foot, rises gracefully to
the hip, and continues with adorable curves to the shoulder,
presenting, in fact, a profile of the whole body. With a subtlety
which few women would have dreamed of, Diane, to the great amazement
of the marquise, had brought her son with her. After a moment's
reflection, Madame d'Espard pressed the princess's hand, with a look
of intelligence that seemed to say:--

"I understand you! By making d'Arthez accept all the difficulties at
once you will not have to conquer them later."

Rastignac brought d'Arthez. The princess made none of those
compliments to the celebrated author with which vulgar persons
overwhelmed him; but she treated him with a kindness full of graceful
respect, which, with her, was the utmost extent of her concessions.
Her manner was doubtless the same with the King of France and the
royal princes. She seemed happy to see this great man, and glad that
she had sought him. Persons of taste, like the princess, are
especially distinguished for their manner of listening, for an
affability without superciliousness, which is to politeness what
practice is to virtue. When the celebrated man spoke, she took an
attentive attitude, a thousand times more flattering than the best-
seasoned compliments. The mutual presentation was made quietly,
without emphasis, and in perfectly good taste, by the marquise.

At dinner d'Arthez was placed beside the princess, who, far from
imitating the eccentricities of diet which many affected women
display, ate her dinner with a very good appetite, making it a point
of honor to seem a natural woman, without strange ways or fancies.
Between two courses she took advantage of the conversation becoming
general to say to d'Arthez, in a sort of aside:--

"The secret of the pleasure I take in finding myself beside you, is
the desire I feel to learn something of an unfortunate friend of
yours, monsieur. He died for another cause greater than ours; but I
was under the greatest obligations to him, although unable to
acknowledge or thank him for them. I know that you were one of his
best friends. Your mutual friendship, pure and unalterable, is a claim
upon me. You will not, I am sure, think it extraordinary, that I have
wished to know all you could tell me of a man so dear to you. Though I
am attached to the exiled family, and bound, of course, to hold
monarchical opinions, I am not among those who think it is impossible
to be both republican and noble in heart. Monarchy and the republic
are two forms of government which do not stifle noble sentiments."

"Michel Chrestien was an angel, madame," replied Daniel, in a voice of
emotion. "I don't know among the heroes of antiquity a greater than
he. Be careful not to think him one of those narrow-minded republicans
who would like to restore the Convention and the amenities of the
Committee of Public Safety. No, Michel dreamed of the Swiss federation
applied to all Europe. Let us own, between ourselves, that AFTER the
glorious government of one man only, which, as I think, is
particularly suited to our nation, Michel's system would lead to the
suppression of war in this old world, and its reconstruction on bases
other than those of conquest, which formerly feudalized it. From this
point of view the republicans came nearest to his idea. That is why he
lent them his arm in July, and was killed at Saint-Merri. Though
completely apart in opinion, he and I were closely bound together as

"That is noble praise for both natures," said Madame de Cadignan,

"During the last four years of his life," continued Daniel, "he made
to me alone a confidence of his love for you, and this confidence
knitted closer than ever the already strong ties of brotherly
affection. He alone, madame, can have loved you as you ought to be
loved. Many a time I have been pelted with rain as we accompanied your
carriage at the pace of the horses, to keep at a parallel distance,
and see you--admire you."

"Ah! monsieur," said the princess, "how can I repay such feelings!"

"Why is Michel not here!" exclaimed Daniel, in melancholy accents.

"Perhaps he would not have loved me long," said the princess, shaking
her head sadly. "Republicans are more absolute in their ideas than we
absolutists, whose fault is indulgence. No doubt he imagined me
perfect, and society would have cruelly undeceived him. We are
pursued, we women, by as many calumnies as you authors are compelled
to endure in your literary life; but we, alas! cannot defend ourselves
either by our works or by our fame. The world will not believe us to
be what we are, but what it thinks us to be. It would soon have hidden
from his eyes the real but unknown woman that is in me, behind the
false portrait of the imaginary woman which the world considers true.
He would have come to think me unworthy of the noble feelings he had
for me, and incapable of comprehending him."

Here the princess shook her head, swaying the beautiful blond curls,
full of heather, with a touching gesture. This plaintive expression of
grievous doubts and hidden sorrows is indescribable. Daniel understood
them all; and he looked at the princess with keen emotion.

"And yet, the night on which I last saw him, after the revolution of
July, I was on the point of giving way to the desire I felt to take
his hand and press it before all the world, under the peristyle of the
opera-house. But the thought came to me that such a proof of gratitude
might be misinterpreted; like so many other little things done from
noble motives which are called to-day the follies of Madame de
Maufrigneuse--things which I can never explain, for none but my son
and God have understood me."

These words, breathed into the ear of the listener, in tones inaudible
to the other guests, and with accents worthy of the cleverest actress,
were calculated to reach the heart; and they did reach that of
d'Arthez. There was no question of himself in the matter; this woman
was seeking to rehabilitate herself in favor of the dead. She had been
calumniated; and she evidently wanted to know if anything had
tarnished her in the eyes of him who had loved her; had he died with
all his illusions?

"Michel," replied d'Arthez, "was one of those men who love absolutely,
and who, if they choose ill, can suffer without renouncing the woman
they have once elected."

"Was I loved thus?" she said, with an air of exalted beatitude.

"Yes, madame."

"I made his happiness?"

"For four years."

"A woman never hears of such a thing without a sentiment of proud
satisfaction," she said, turning her sweet and noble face to d'Arthez
with a movement full of modest confusion.

One of the most skilful manoeuvres of these actresses is to veil their
manner when words are too expressive, and speak with their eyes when
language is restrained. These clever discords, slipped into the music
of their love, be it false or true, produce irresistible attractions.

"Is it not," she said, lowering her voice and her eyes, after feeling
well assured they had produced her effect,--"is it not fulfilling
one's destiny to have rendered a great man happy?"

"Did he not write that to you?"

"Yes; but I wanted to be sure, quite sure; for, believe me, monsieur,
in putting me so high he was not mistaken."

Women know how to give a peculiar sacredness to their words; they
communicate something vibrant to them, which extends the meaning of
their ideas, and gives them depth; though later their fascinated
listener may not remember precisely what they said, their end has been
completely attained,--which is the object of all eloquence. The
princess might at that moment have been wearing the diadem of France,
and her brow could not have seemed more imposing than it was beneath
that crown of golden hair, braided like a coronet, and adorned with
heather. She was simple and calm; nothing betrayed a sense of any
necessity to appear so, nor any desire to seem grand or loving.
D'Arthez, the solitary toiler, to whom the ways of the world were
unknown, whom study had wrapped in its protecting veils, was the dupe
of her tones and words. He was under the spell of those exquisite
manners; he admired that perfect beauty, ripened by misfortune, placid
in retirement; he adored the union of so rare a mind and so noble a
soul; and he longed to become, himself, the heir of Michel Chrestien.

The beginning of this passion was, as in the case of almost all deep
thinkers, an idea. Looking at the princess, studying the shape of her
head, the arrangement of those sweet features, her figure, her hand,
so finely modelled, closer than when he accompanied his friend in
their wild rush through the streets, he was struck by the surprising
phenomenon of the moral second-sight which a man exalted by love
invariably finds within him. With what lucidity had Michel Chrestien
read into that soul, that heart, illumined by the fires of love! Thus
the princess acquired, in d'Arthez's eyes, another charm; a halo of
poesy surrounded her.

As the dinner proceeded, Daniel called to mind the various confidences
of his friend, his despair, his hopes, the noble poems of a true
sentiment sung to his ear alone, in honor of this woman. It is rare
that a man passes without remorse from the position of confidant to
that of rival, and d'Arthez was free to do so without dishonor. He had
suddenly, in a moment, perceived the enormous differences existing
between a well-bred woman, that flower of the great world, and common
women, though of the latter he did not know beyond one specimen. He
was thus captured on the most accessible and sensitive sides of his
soul and of his genius. Impelled by his simplicity, and by the
impetuosity of his ideas, to lay immediate claim to this woman, he
found himself restrained by society, also by the barrier which the
manners and, let us say the word, the majesty of the princess placed
between them. The conversation, which remained upon the topic of
Michel Chrestien until the dessert, was an excellent pretext for both
to speak in a low voice: love, sympathy, comprehension! she could pose
as a maligned and misunderstood woman; he could slip his feet into the
shoes of the dead republican. Perhaps his candid mind detected itself
in regretting his dead friend less. The princess, at the moment when
the dessert appeared upon the table, and the guests were separated by
a brilliant hedge of fruits and sweetmeats, thought best to put an end
to this flow of confidences by a charming little speech, in which she
delicately expressed the idea that Daniel and Michel were twin souls.

After this d'Arthez threw himself into the general conversation with
the gayety of a child, and a self-conceited air that was worthy of a
schoolboy. When they left the dining-room, the princess took
d'Arthez's arm, in the simplest manner, to return to Madame d'Espard's
little salon. As they crossed the grand salon she walked slowly, and
when sufficiently separated from the marquise, who was on Blondet's
arm, she stopped.

"I do not wish to be inaccessible to the friend of that poor man," she
said to d'Arthez; "and though I have made it a rule to receive no
visitors, you will always be welcome in my house. Do not think this a
favor. A favor is only for strangers, and to my mind you and I seem
old friends; I see in you the brother of Michel."

D'Arthez could only press her arm, unable to make other reply.

After coffee was served, Diane de Cadignan wrapped herself, with
coquettish motions, in a large shawl, and rose. Blondet and Rastignac
were too much men of the world, and too polite to make the least
remonstrance, or try to detain her; but Madame d'Espard compelled her
friend to sit down again, whispering in her ear:--

"Wait till the servants have had their dinner; the carriage is not
ready yet."

So saying, the marquise made a sign to the footman, who was taking
away the coffee-tray. Madame de Montcornet perceived that the princess
and Madame d'Espard had a word to say to each other, and she drew
around her d'Arthez, Rastignac, and Blondet, amusing them with one of
those clever paradoxical attacks which Parisian women understand so

"Well," said the marquise to Diane, "what do you think of him?"

"He is an adorable child, just out of swaddling-clothes! This time,
like all other times, it will only be a triumph without a struggle."

"Well, it is disappointing," said Madame d'Espard. "But we might evade


"Let me be your rival."

"Just as you please," replied the princess. "I've decided on my
course. Genius is a condition of the brain; I don't know what the
heart gets out of it; we'll talk about that later."

Hearing the last few words, which were wholly incomprehensible to her,
Madame d'Espard returned to the general conversation, showing neither
offence at that indifferent "As you please," nor curiosity as to the
outcome of the interview. The princess stayed an hour longer, seated
on the sofa near the fire, in the careless, nonchalant attitude of
Guerin's Dido, listening with the attention of an absorbed mind, and
looking at Daniel now and then, without disguising her admiration,
which never went, however, beyond due limits. She slipped away when
the carriage was announced, with a pressure of the hand to the
marquise, and an inclination of the head to Madame de Montcornet.

The evening concluded without any allusion to the princess. The other
guests profited by the sort of exaltation which d'Arthez had reached,
for he put forth the treasures of his mind. In Blondet and Rastignac
he certainly had two acolytes of the first quality to bring forth the
delicacy of his wit and the breadth of his intellect. As for the two
women, they had long been counted among the cleverest in society. This
evening was like a halt in the oasis of a desert,--a rare enjoyment,
and well appreciated by these four persons, habitually victimized to
the endless caution entailed by the world of salons and politics.
There are beings who have the privilege of passing among men like
beneficent stars, whose light illumines the mind, while its rays send
a glow to the heart. D'Arthez was one of those beings. A writer who
rises to his level, accustoms himself to free thought, and forgets
that in society all things cannot be said; it is impossible for such a
man to observe the restraint of persons who live in the world
perpetually; but as his eccentricities of thought bore the mark of
originality, no one felt inclined to complain. This zest, this
piquancy, rare in mere talent, this youthfulness and simplicity of
soul which made d'Arthez so nobly original, gave a delightful charm to
this evening. He left the house with Rastignac, who, as they drove
home, asked him how he liked the princess.

"Michel did well to love her," replied d'Arthez; "she is, indeed, an
extraordinary woman."

"Very extraordinary," replied Rastignac, dryly. "By the tone of your
voice I should judge you were in love with her already. You will be in
her house within three days; and I am too old a denizen of Paris not
to know what will be the upshot of that. Well, my dear Daniel, I do
entreat you not to allow yourself to be drawn into any confusion of
interests, so to speak. Love the princess if you feel any love for her
in your heart, but keep an eye on your fortune. She has never taken or
asked a penny from any man on earth, she is far too much of a
d'Uxelles and a Cadignan for that; but, to my knowledge, she has not
only spent her own fortune, which was very considerable, but she has
made others waste millions. How? why? by what means? No one knows; she
doesn't know herself. I myself saw her swallow up, some thirteen years
ago, the entire fortune of a charming young fellow, and that of an old
notary, in twenty months."

"Thirteen years ago!" exclaimed d'Arthez,--"why, how old is she now?"

"Didn't you see, at dinner," replied Rastignac, laughing, "her son,
the Duc de Maufrigneuse. That young man is nineteen years old;
nineteen and seventeen make--"

"Thirty-six!" cried the amazed author. "I gave her twenty."

"She'll accept them," said Rastignac; "but don't be uneasy, she will
always be twenty to you. You are about to enter the most fantastic of
worlds. Good-night, here you are at home," said the baron, as they
entered the rue de Bellefond, where d'Arthez lived in a pretty little
house of his own. "We shall meet at Mademoiselle des Touches's in the
course of the week."



D'Arthez allowed love to enter his heart after the manner of my Uncle
Toby, without making the slightest resistance; he proceeded by
adoration without criticism, and by exclusive admiration. The
princess, that noble creature, one of the most remarkable creations of
our monstrous Paris, where all things are possible, good as well as
evil, became--whatever vulgarity the course of time may have given to
the expression--the angel of his dreams. To fully understand the
sudden transformation of this illustrious author, it is necessary to
realize the simplicity that constant work and solitude leave in the
heart; all that love--reduced to a mere need, and now repugnant,
beside an ignoble woman--excites of regret and longings for diviner
sentiments in the higher regions of the soul. D'Arthez was, indeed,
the child, the boy that Madame de Cadignan had recognized. An
illumination something like his own had taken place in the beautiful
Diane. At last she had met that superior man whom all women desire and
seek, if only to make a plaything of him,--that power which they
consent to obey, if only for the pleasure of subduing it; at last she
had found the grandeurs of the intellect united with the simplicity of
a heart all new to love; and she saw, with untold happiness, that
these merits were contained in a form that pleased her. She thought
d'Arthez handsome, and perhaps he was. Though he had reached the age
of gravity (for he was now thirty-eight), he still preserved a flower
of youth, due to the sober and ascetic life which he had led. Like all
men of sedentary habits, and statesmen, he had acquired a certainly
reasonable embonpoint. When very young, he bore some resemblance to
Bonaparte; and the likeness still continued, as much as a man with
black eyes and thick, dark hair could resemble a sovereign with blue
eyes and scanty, chestnut hair. But whatever there once was of ardent
and noble ambition in the great author's eyes had been somewhat
quenched by successes. The thoughts with which that brow once teemed
had flowered; the lines of the hollow face were filling out. Ease now
spread its golden tints where, in youth, poverty had laid the yellow
tones of the class of temperament whose forces band together to
support a crushing and long-continued struggle. If you observe
carefully the noble faces of ancient philosophers, you will always
find those deviations from the type of a perfect human face which show
the characteristic to which each countenance owes its originality,
chastened by the habit of meditation, and by the calmness necessary
for intellectual labor. The most irregular features, like those of
Socrates, for instance, become, after a time, expressive of an almost
divine serenity.

To the noble simplicity which characterized his head, d'Arthez added a
naive expression, the naturalness of a child, and a touching
kindliness. He did not have that politeness tinged with insincerity
with which, in society, the best-bred persons and the most amiable
assume qualities in which they are often lacking, leaving those they
have thus duped wounded and distressed. He might, indeed, fail to
observe certain rules of social life, owing to his isolated mode of
living; but he never shocked the sensibilities, and therefore this
perfume of savagery made the peculiar affability of a man of great
talent the more agreeable; such men know how to leave their
superiority in their studies, and come down to the social level,
lending their backs, like Henry IV., to the children's leap-frog, and
their minds to fools.

If d'Arthez did not brace himself against the spell which the princess
had cast about him, neither did she herself argue the matter in her
own mind, on returning home. It was settled for her. She loved with
all her knowledge and all her ignorance. If she questioned herself at
all, it was to ask whether she deserved so great a happiness, and what
she had done that Heaven should send her such an angel. She wanted to
be worthy of that love, to perpetuate it, to make it her own forever,
and to gently end her career of frivolity in the paradise she now
foresaw. As for coquetting, quibbling, resisting, she never once
thought of it. She was thinking of something very different!--of the
grandeur of men of genius, and the certainty which her heart divined
that they would never subject the woman they chose to ordinary laws.

Here begins one of those unseen comedies, played in the secret regions
of the consciousness between two beings of whom one will be the dupe
of the other, though it keeps on this side of wickedness; one of those
dark and comic dramas to which that of Tartuffe is mere child's play,
--dramas that do not enter the scenic domain, although they are
natural, conceivable, and even justifiable by necessity; dramas which
may be characterized as not vice, only the other side of it.

The princess began by sending for d'Arthez's books, of which she had
never, as yet, read a single word, although she had managed to
maintain a twenty minutes' eulogism and discussion of them without a
blunder. She now read them all. Then she wanted to compare these books
with the best that contemporary literature had produced. By the time
d'Arthez came to see her she was having an indigestion of mind.
Expecting this visit, she had daily made a toilet of what may be
called the superior order; that is, a toilet which expresses an idea,
and makes it accepted by the eye without the owner of the eye knowing
why or wherefore. She presented an harmonious combination of shades of
gray, a sort of semi-mourning, full of graceful renunciation,--the
garments of a woman who holds to life only through a few natural ties,
--her child, for instance,--but who is weary of life. Those garments
bore witness to an elegant disgust, not reaching, however, as far as
suicide; no, she would live out her days in these earthly galleys.

She received d'Arthez as a woman who expected him, and as if he had
already been to see her a hundred times; she did him the honor to
treat him like an old acquaintance, and she put him at his ease by
pointing to a seat on a sofa, while she finished a note she was then
writing. The conversation began in a commonplace manner: the weather,
the ministry, de Marsay's illness, the hopes of the legitimists.
D'Arthez was an absolutist; the princess could not be ignorant of the
opinions of a man who sat in the Chamber among the fifteen or twenty
persons who represented the legitimist party; she found means to tell
him how she had fooled de Marsay to the top of his bent, then, by an
easy transition to the royal family and to "Madame," and the devotion
of the Prince de Cadignan to their service, she drew d'Arthez's
attention to the prince:--

"There is this to be said for him: he loved his masters, and was
faithful to them. His public character consoles me for the sufferings
his private life has inflicted upon me-- Have you never remarked," she
went on, cleverly leaving the prince aside, "you who observe so much,
that men have two natures: one of their homes, their wives, their
private lives,--this is their true self; here no mask, no
dissimulation; they do not give themselves the trouble to disguise a
feeling; they are what they ARE, and it is often horrible! The other
man is for others, for the world, for salons; the court, the
sovereign, the public often see them grand, and noble, and generous,
embroidered with virtues, adorned with fine language, full of
admirable qualities. What a horrible jest it is!--and the world is
surprised, sometimes, at the caustic smile of certain women, at their
air of superiority to their husbands, and their indifference--"

She let her hand fall along the arm of her chair, without ending her
sentence, but the gesture admirably completed the speech. She saw
d'Arthez watching her flexible figure, gracefully bending in the
depths of her easy-chair, noting the folds of her gown, and the pretty
little ruffle which sported on her breast,--one of those audacities of
the toilet that are suited only to slender waists,--and she resumed
the thread of her thoughts as if she were speaking to herself:--

"But I will say no more. You writers have ended by making ridiculous
all women who think they are misunderstood, or ill-mated, and who try
to make themselves dramatically interesting,--attempts which seem to
me, I must say, intolerably vulgar. There are but two things for women
in that plight to do,--yield, and all is over; resist, and amuse
themselves; in either case they should keep silence. It is true that I
neither yielded wholly, nor resisted wholly; but, perhaps, that was
only the more reason why I should be silent. What folly for women to
complain! If they have not proved the stronger, they have failed in
sense, in tact, in capacity, and they deserve their fate. Are they not
queens in France? They can play with you as they like, when they like,
and as much as they like." Here she danced her vinaigrette with an
airy movement of feminine impertinence and mocking gayety. "I have
often heard miserable little specimens of my sex regretting that they
were women, wishing they were men; I have always regarded them with
pity. If I had to choose, I should still elect to be a woman. A fine
pleasure, indeed, to owe one's triumph to force, and to all those
powers which you give yourselves by the laws you make! But to see you
at our feet, saying and doing foolish things,--ah! it is an
intoxicating pleasure to feel within our souls that weakness triumphs!
But when we triumph, we ought to keep silence, under pain of losing
our empire. Beaten, a woman's pride should gag her. The slave's
silence alarms the master."

This chatter was uttered in a voice so softly sarcastic, so dainty,
and with such coquettish motions of the head, that d'Arthez, to whom
this style of woman was totally unknown, sat before her exactly like a
partridge charmed by a setter.

"I entreat you, madame," he said, at last, "to tell me how it was
possible that a man could make you suffer? Be assured that where, as
you say, other women are common and vulgar, you can only seem
distinguished; your manner of saying things would make a cook-book

"You go fast in friendship," she said, in a grave voice which made
d'Arthez extremely uneasy.

The conversation changed; the hour was late, and the poor man of
genius went away contrite for having seemed curious, and for wounding
the sensitive heart of that rare woman who had so strangely suffered.
As for her, she had passed her life in amusing herself with men, and
was another Don Juan in female attire, with this difference: she would
certainly not have invited the Commander to supper, and would have got
the better of any statue.

It is impossible to continue this tale without saying a word about the
Prince de Cadignan, better known under the name of the Duc de
Maufrigneuse, otherwise the spice of the princess's confidences would
be lost, and strangers would not understand the Parisian comedy she
was about to play for her man of genius.

The Duc de Maufrigneuse, like a true son of the old Prince de
Cadignan, is a tall, lean man, of elegant shape, very graceful, a
sayer of witty things, colonel by the grace of God, and a good soldier
by accident; brave as a Pole, which means without sense or
discernment, and hiding the emptiness of his mind under the jargon of
good society. After the age of thirty-six he was forced to be as
absolutely indifferent to the fair sex as his master Charles X.,
punished, like that master, for having pleased it too well. For
eighteen years the idol of the faubourg Saint-Germain, he had, like
other heirs of great families led a dissipated life, spent solely on
pleasure. His father, ruined by the revolution, had somewhat recovered
his position on the return of the Bourbons, as governor of a royal
domain, with salary and perquisites; but this uncertain fortune the
old prince spent, as it came, in keeping up the traditions of a great
seigneur before the revolution; so that when the law of indemnity was
passed, the sums he received were all swallowed up in the luxury he
displayed in his vast hotel.

The old prince died some little time before the revolution of July
aged eighty-seven. He had ruined his wife, and had long been on bad
terms with the Duc de Navarreins, who had married his daughter for a
first wife, and to whom he very reluctantly rendered his accounts. The
Duc de Maufrigneuse, early in life, had had relations with the
Duchesse d'Uxelles. About the year 1814, when Monsieur de Maufrigneuse
was forty-six years of age, the duchess, pitying his poverty, and
seeing that he stood very well at court, gave him her daughter Diane,
then in her seventeenth year, and possessing, in her own right, some
fifty or sixty thousand francs a year, not counting her future
expectations. Mademoiselle d'Uxelles thus became a duchess, and, as
her mother very well knew, she enjoyed the utmost liberty. The duke,
after obtaining the unexpected happiness of an heir, left his wife
entirely to her own devices, and went off to amuse himself in the
various garrisons of France, returning occasionally to Paris, where he
made debts which his father paid. He professed the most entire
conjugal indulgence, always giving the duchess a week's warning of his
return; he was adored by his regiment, beloved by the Dauphin, an
adroit courtier, somewhat of a gambler, and totally devoid of
affectation. Having succeeded to his father's office as governor of
one of the royal domains, he managed to please the two kings, Louis
XVIII. and Charles X., which proves he made the most of his nonentity;
and even the liberals liked him; but his conduct and life were covered
with the finest varnish; language, noble manners, and deportment were
brought by him to a state of perfection. But, as the old prince said,
it was impossible for him to continue the traditions of the Cadignans,
who were all well known to have ruined their wives, for the duchess
was running through her property on her own account.

These particulars were so well understood in the court circles and in
the faubourg Saint-Germain, that during the last five years of the
Restoration they were considered ancient history, and any one who
mentioned them would have been laughed at. Women never spoke of the
charming duke without praising him; he was excellent, they said, to
his wife; could a man be better? He had left her the entire disposal
of her own property, and had always defended her on every occasion. It
is true that, whether from pride, kindliness, or chivalry, Monsieur de
Maufrigneuse had saved the duchess under various circumstances which
might have ruined other women, in spite of Diane's surroundings, and
the influence of her mother and that of the Duc de Navarreins, her
father-in-law, and her husband's aunt.

For several ensuing days the princess revealed herself to d'Arthez as
remarkable for her knowledge of literature. She discussed with perfect
fearlessness the most difficult questions, thanks to her daily and
nightly reading, pursued with an intrepidity worthy of the highest
praise. D'Arthez, amazed, and incapable of suspecting that Diane
d'Uxelles merely repeated at night that which she read in the morning
(as some writers do), regarded her as a most superior woman. These
conversations, however, led away from Diane's object, and she tried to
get back to the region of confidences from which d'Arthez had
prudently retired after her coquettish rebuff; but it was not as easy
as she expected to bring back a man of his nature who had once been
startled away.

However, after a month of literary campaigning and the finest platonic
discourses, d'Arthez grew bolder, and arrived every day at three
o'clock. He retired at six, and returned at nine, to remain until
midnight, or one in the morning, with the regularity of an ardent and
impatient lover. The princess was always dressed with more or less
studied elegance at the hour when d'Arthez presented himself. This
mutual fidelity, the care they each took of their appearance, in fact,
all about them expressed sentiments that neither dared avow, for the
princess discerned very plainly that the great child with whom she had
to do shrank from the combat as much as she desired it. Nevertheless
d'Arthez put into his mute declarations a respectful awe which was
infinitely pleasing to her. Both felt, every day, all the more united
because nothing acknowledged or definite checked the course of their
ideas, as occurs between lovers when there are formal demands on one
side, and sincere or coquettish refusals on the other.

Like all men younger than their actual age, d'Arthez was a prey to
those agitating irresolutions which are caused by the force of desires
and the terror of displeasing,--a situation which a young woman does
not comprehend when she shares it, but which the princess had too
often deliberately produced not to enjoy its pleasures. In fact, Diane
enjoyed these delightful juvenilities all the more keenly because she
knew that she could put an end to them at any moment. She was like a
great artist delighting in the vague, undecided lines of his sketch,
knowing well that in a moment of inspiration he can complete the
masterpiece still waiting to come to birth. Many a time, seeing
d'Arthez on the point of advancing, she enjoyed stopping him short,
with an imposing air and manner. She drove back the hidden storms of
that still young heart, raised them again, and stilled them with a
look, holding out her hand to be kissed, or saying some trifling
insignificant words in a tender voice.

These manoeuvres, planned in cold blood, but enchantingly executed,
carved her image deeper and deeper on the soul of that great writer
and thinker whom she revelled in making childlike, confiding, simple,
and almost silly beside her. And yet she had moments of repulsion
against her own act, moments in which she could not help admiring the
grandeur of such simplicity. This game of choicest coquetry attached
her, insensibly, to her slave. At last, however, Diane grew impatient
with an Epictetus of love; and when she thought she had trained him to
the utmost credulity, she set to work to tie a thicker bandage still
over his eyes.



One evening Daniel found the princess thoughtful, one elbow resting on
a little table, her beautiful blond head bathed in light from the
lamp. She was toying with a letter which lay on the table-cloth. When
d'Arthez had seen the paper distinctly, she folded it up, and stuck it
in her belt.

"What is the matter?" asked d'Arthez; "you seem distressed."

"I have received a letter from Monsieur de Cadignan," she replied.
"However great the wrongs he has done me, I cannot help thinking of
his exile--without family, without son--from his native land."

These words, said in a soulful voice, betrayed angelic sensibility.
D'Arthez was deeply moved. The curiosity of the lover became, so to
speak, a psychological and literary curiosity. He wanted to know the
height that woman had attained, and what were the injuries she thus
forgave; he longed to know how these women of the world, taxed with
frivolity, cold-heartedness, and egotism, could be such angels.
Remembering how the princess had already repulsed him when he first
tried to read that celestial heart, his voice, and he himself,
trembled as he took the transparent, slender hand of the beautiful
Diane with its curving finger-tips, and said,--

"Are we now such friends that you will tell me what you have

"Yes," she said, breathing forth the syllable like the most
mellifluous note that Tulou's flute had ever sighed.

Then she fell into a revery, and her eyes were veiled. Daniel remained
in a state of anxious expectation, impressed with the solemnity of the
occasion. His poetic imagination made him see, as it were, clouds
slowly dispersing and disclosing to him the sanctuary where the
wounded lamb was kneeling at the divine feet.

"Well?" he said, in a soft, still voice.

Diane looked at the tender petitioner; then she lowered her eyes
slowly, dropping their lids with a movement of noble modesty. None but
a monster would have been capable of imagining hypocrisy in the
graceful undulation of the neck with which the princess again lifted
her charming head, to look once more into the eager eyes of that great

"Can I? ought I?" she murmured, with a gesture of hesitation, gazing
at d'Arthez with a sublime expression of dreamy tenderness. "Men have
so little faith in things of this kind; they think themselves so
little bound to be discreet!"

"Ah! if you distrust me, why am I here?" cried d'Arthez.

"Oh, friend!" she said, giving to the exclamation the grace of an
involuntary avowal, "when a woman attaches herself for life, think you
she calculates? It is not question of refusal (how could I refuse you
anything?), but the idea of what you may think of me if I speak. I
would willingly confide to you the strange position in which I am at
my age; but what would you think of a woman who could reveal the
secret wounds of her married life? Turenne kept his word to robbers;
do I not owe to my torturers the honor of a Turenne?"

"Have you passed your word to say nothing?"

"Monsieur de Cadignan did not think it necessary to bind me to
secrecy-- You are asking more than my soul! Tyrant! you want me to
bury my honor itself in your breast," she said, casting upon d'Arthez
a look, by which she gave more value to her coming confidence than to
her personal self.

"You must think me a very ordinary man, if you fear any evil, no
matter what, from me," he said, with ill-concealed bitterness.

"Forgive me, friend," she replied, taking his hand in hers
caressingly, and letting her fingers wander gently over it. "I know
your worth. You have related to me your whole life; it is noble, it is
beautiful, it is sublime, and worthy of your name; perhaps, in return,
I owe you mine. But I fear to lower myself in your eyes by relating
secrets which are not wholly mine. How can you believe--you, a man of
solitude and poesy--the horrors of social life? Ah! you little think
when you invent your dramas that they are far surpassed by those that
are played in families apparently united. You are wholly ignorant of
certain gilded sorrows."

"I know all!" he cried.

"No, you know nothing."

D'Arthez felt like a man lost on the Alps of a dark night, who sees,
at the first gleam of dawn, a precipice at his feet. He looked at the
princess with a bewildered air, and felt a cold chill running down his
back. Diane thought for a moment that her man of genius was a
weakling, but a flash from his eyes reassured her.

"You have become to me almost my judge," she said, with a desperate
air. "I must speak now, in virtue of the right that all calumniated
beings have to show their innocence. I have been, I am still (if a
poor recluse forced by the world to renounce the world is still
remembered) accused of such light conduct, and so many evil things,
that it may be allowed me to find in one strong heart a haven from
which I cannot be driven. Hitherto I have always considered self-
justification an insult to innocence; and that is why I have disdained
to defend myself. Besides, to whom could I appeal? Such cruel things
can be confided to none but God or to one who seems to us very near
Him--a priest, or another self. Well! I do know this, if my secrets
are not as safe there," she said, laying her hand on d'Arthez's heart,
"as they are here" (pressing the upper end of her busk beneath her
fingers), "then you are not the grand d'Arthez I think you--I shall
have been deceived."

A tear moistened d'Arthez's eyes, and Diane drank it in with a side
look, which, however, gave no motion either to the pupils or the lids
of her eyes. It was quick and neat, like the action of a cat pouncing
on a mouse.

D'Arthez, for the first time, after sixty days of protocols, ventured
to take that warm and perfumed hand, and press it to his lips with a
long-drawn kiss, extending from the wrist to the tip of the fingers,
which made the princess augur well of literature. She thought to
herself that men of genius must know how to love with more perfection
than conceited fops, men of the world, diplomatists, and even
soldiers, although such beings have nothing else to do. She was a
connoisseur, and knew very well that the capacity for love reveals
itself chiefly in mere nothings. A woman well informed in such matters
can read her future in a simple gesture; just as Cuvier could say from
the fragment of a bone: This belonged to an animal of such or such
dimensions, with or without horns, carnivorous, herbivorous,
amphibious, etc., age, so many thousand years. Sure now of finding in
d'Arthez as much imagination in love as there was in his written
style, she thought it wise to bring him up at once to the highest
pitch of passion and belief.

She withdrew her hand hastily, with a magnificent movement full of
varied emotions. If she had said in words: "Stop, or I shall die," she
could not have spoken more plainly. She remained for a moment with her
eyes in d'Arthez's eyes, expressing in that one glance happiness,
prudery, fear, confidence, languor, a vague longing, and virgin
modesty. She was twenty years old! but remember, she had prepared for
this hour of comic falsehood by the choicest art of dress; she was
there in her armchair like a flower, ready to blossom at the first
kiss of sunshine. True or false, she intoxicated Daniel.

It if is permissible to risk a personal opinion we must avow that it
would be delightful to be thus deceived for a good long time.
Certainly Talma on the stage was often above and beyond nature, but
the Princesse de Cadignan is the greatest true comedian of our day.
Nothing was wanting to this woman but an attentive audience.
Unfortunately, at epochs perturbed by political storms, women
disappear like water-lilies which need a cloudless sky and balmy
zephyrs to spread their bloom to our enraptured eyes.

The hour had come; Diane was now to entangle that great man in the
inextricable meshes of a romance carefully prepared, to which he was
fated to listen as the neophyte of early Christian times listened to
the epistles of an apostle.

"My friend," began Diane, "my mother, who still lives at Uxelles,
married me in 1814, when I was seventeen years old (you see how old I
am now!) to Monsieur de Maufrigneuse, not out of affection for me, but
out of regard for him. She discharged her debt to the only man she had
ever loved, for the happiness she had once received from him. Oh! you
need not be astonished at so horrible a conspiracy; it frequently
takes place. Many women are more lovers than mothers, though the
majority are more mothers than wives. The two sentiments, love and
motherhood, developed as they are by our manners and customs, often
struggle together in the hearts of women; one or other must succumb
when they are not of equal strength; when they are, they produce some
exceptional women, the glory of our sex. A man of your genius must
surely comprehend many things that bewilder fools but are none the
less true; indeed I may go further and call them justifiable through
difference of characters, temperaments, attachments, situations. I,
for example, at this moment, after twenty years of misfortunes, of
deceptions, of calumnies endured, and weary days and hollow pleasures,
is it not natural that I should incline to fall at the feet of a man
who would love me sincerely and forever? And yet, the world would
condemn me. But twenty years of suffering might well excuse a few
brief years which may still remain to me of youth given to a sacred
and real love. This will not happen. I am not so rash as to sacrifice
my hopes of heaven. I have borne the burden and heat of the day, I
shall finish my course and win my recompense."

"Angel!" thought d'Arthez.

"After all, I have never blamed my mother; she knew little of me.
Mothers who lead a life like that of the Duchesse d'Uxelles keep their
children at a distance. I saw and knew nothing of the world until my
marriage. You can judge of my innocence! I knew nothing; I was
incapable of understanding the causes of my marriage. I had a fine
fortune; sixty thousand francs a year in forests, which the Revolution
overlooked (or had not been able to sell) in the Nivernais, with the
noble chateau of d'Anzy. Monsieur de Maufrigneuse was steeped in debt.
Later I learned what it was to have debts, but then I was too utterly
ignorant of life to suspect my position; the money saved out of my
fortune went to pacify my husband's creditors. Monsieur de
Maufrigneuse was forty-eight years of age when I married him; but
those years were like military campaigns, they ought to count for
twice what they were. Ah! what a life I led for ten years! If any one
had known the suffering of this poor, calumniated little woman! To be
watched by a mother jealous of her daughter! Heavens! You who make
dramas, you will never invent anything as direful as that. Ordinarily,
according to the little that I know of literature, a drama is a suite
of actions, speeches, movements which hurry to a catastrophe; but what
I speak of was a catastrophe in action. It was an avalanche fallen in
the morning and falling again at night only to fall again the next
day. I am cold now as I speak to you of that cavern without an
opening, cold, sombre, in which I lived. I, poor little thing that I
was! brought up in a convent like a mystic rose, knowing nothing of
marriage, developing late, I was happy at first; I enjoyed the
goodwill and harmony of our family. The birth of my poor boy, who is
all me--you must have been struck by the likeness? my hair, my eyes,
the shape of my face, my mouth, my smile, my teeth!--well, his birth
was a relief to me; my thoughts were diverted by the first joys of
maternity from my husband, who gave me no pleasure and did nothing for
me that was kind or amiable; those joys were all the keener because I
knew no others. It had been so often rung into my ears that a mother
should respect herself. Besides, a young girl loves to play the
mother. I was so proud of my flower--for Georges was beautiful, a
miracle, I thought! I saw and thought of nothing but my son, I lived
with my son. I never let his nurse dress or undress him. Such cares,
so wearing to mothers who have a regiment of children, were all my
pleasure. But after three or four years, as I was not an actual fool,
light came to my eyes in spite of the pains taken to blindfold me. Can
you see me at that final awakening, in 1819? The drama of 'The
Brothers at enmity' is a rose-water tragedy beside that of a mother
and daughter placed as we then were. But I braved them all, my mother,
my husband, the world, by public coquetries which society talked of,--
and heaven knows how it talked! You can see, my friend, how the men
with whom I was accused of folly were to me the dagger with which to
stab my enemies. Thinking only of my vengeance, I did not see or feel
the wounds I was inflicting on myself. Innocent as a child, I was
thought a wicked woman, the worst of women, and I knew nothing of it!
The world is very foolish, very blind, very ignorant; it can penetrate
no secrets but those which amuse it and serve its malice: noble
things, great things, it puts its hand before its eyes to avoid
seeing. But, as I look back, it seems to me that I had an attitude and
aspect of indignant innocence, with movements of pride, which a great
painter would have recognized. I must have enlivened many a ball with
my tempests of anger and disdain. Lost poesy! such sublime poems are
only made in the glowing indignation which seizes us at twenty. Later,
we are wrathful no longer, we are too weary, vice no longer amazes us,
we are cowards, we fear. But then--oh! I kept a great pace! For all
that I played the silliest personage in the world; I was charged with
crimes by which I never benefited. But I had such pleasure in
compromising myself. That was my revenge! Ah! I have played many
childish tricks! I went to Italy with a thoughtless youth, whom I
crushed when he spoke to me of love, but later, when I herd that he
was compromised on my account (he had committed a forgery to get
money) I rushed to save him. My mother and husband kept me almost
without means; but, this time, I went to the king. Louis XVIII., that
man without a heart, was touched; he gave me a hundred thousand francs
from his privy purse. The Marquis d'Esgrignon--you must have seen him
in society for he ended by making a rich marriage--was saved from the
abyss into which he had plunged for my sake. That adventure, caused by
my own folly, led me to reflect. I saw that I myself was the first
victim of my vengeance. My mother, who knew I was too proud, too
d'Uxelles, to conduct myself really ill, began to see the harm that
she had done me and was frightened by it. She was then fifty-two years
of age; she left Paris and went to live at Uxelles. There she expiates
her wrong-doing by a life of devotion and expresses the utmost
affection for me. After her departure I was face to face, alone, with
Monsieur de Maufrigneuse. Oh! my friend, you men can never know what
an old man of gallantry can be. What a home is that of a man
accustomed to the adulation of women of the world, when he finds
neither incense nor censer in his own house! dead to all! and yet,
perhaps for that very reason, jealous. I wished--when Monsieur de
Maufrigneuse was wholly mine--I wished to be a good wife, but I found
myself repulsed with the harshness of a soured spirit by a man who
treated me like a child and took pleasure in humiliating my self-
respect at every turn, in crushing me under the scorn of his
experience, and in convicting me of total ignorance. He wounded me on
all occasions. He did everything to make me detest him and to give me
the right to betray him; but I was still the dupe of my own hope and
of my desire to do right through several years. Shall I tell you the
cruel saying that drove me to further follies? 'The Duchesse de
Maufrigneuse has gone back to her husband,' said the world. 'Bah! it
is always a triumph to bring the dead to life; it is all she can now
do,' replied my best friend, a relation, she, at whose house I met

"Madame d'Espard!" cried Daniel, with a gesture of horror.

"Oh! I have forgiven her. Besides, it was very witty; and I have
myself made just as cruel epigrams on other poor women as innocent as

D'Arthez again kissed the hand of that saintly woman who, having
hacked her mother in pieces, and turned the Prince de Cadignan into an
Othello, now proceeded to accuse herself in order to appear in the
eyes of that innocent great man as immaculate as the silliest or the
wisest of women desire to seem at all costs to their lovers.

"You will readily understand, my friend, that I returned to society
for the purpose of excitement and I may say of notoriety. I felt that
I must conquer my independence. I led a life of dissipation. To divert
my mind, to forget my real life in fictitious enjoyments I was gay, I
shone, I gave fetes, I played the princess, and I ran in debt. At home
I could forget myself in the sleep of weariness, able to rise the next
day gay, and frivolous for the world; but in that sad struggle to
escape my real life I wasted my fortune. The revolution of 1830 came;
it came at the very moment when I had met, at the end of that Arabian
Nights' life, a pure and sacred love which (I desire to be honest) I
had longed to know. Was it not natural in a woman whose heart,
repressed by many causes and accidents, was awakening at an age when a
woman feels herself cheated if she has never known, like the women she
sees about her, a happy love? Ah! why was Michel Chrestien so
respectful? Why did he not seek to meet me? There again was another
mockery! But what of that? in falling, I have lost everything; I have
no illusions left; I had tasted of all things except the one fruit for
which I have no longer teeth. Yes, I found myself disenchanted with
the world at the very moment when I was forced to leave it.
Providential, was it not? like all those strange insensibilities which
prepare us for death" (she made a gesture full of pious unction). "All
things served me then," she continued; "the disasters of the monarchy
and its ruin helped me to bury myself. My son consoles me for much.
Maternal love takes the place of all frustrated feelings. The world is
surprised at my retirement, but to me it has brought peace. Ah! if you
knew how happy the poor creature before you is in this little place.
In sacrificing all to my son I forget to think of joys of which I am
and ever must be ignorant. Yes, hope has flown, I now fear everything;
no doubt I should repulse the truest sentiment, the purest and most
veritable love, in memory of the deceptions and the miseries of my
life. It is all horrible, is it not? and yet, what I have told you is
the history of many women."

The last few words were said in a tone of easy pleasantry which
recalled the presence of the woman of the world. D'Arthez was
dumbfounded. In his eyes convicts sent to the galleys for murder, or
aggravated robbery, or for putting a wrong name to checks, were saints
compared to the men and women of society. This atrocious elegy, forged
in the arsenal of lies, and steeped in the waters of the Parisian
Styx, had been poured into his ears with the inimitable accent of
truth. The grave author contemplated for a moment that adorable woman
lying back in her easy-chair, her two hands pendant from its arms like
dewdrops from a rose-leaf, overcome by her own revelation, living over
again the sorrows of her life as she told them--in short an angel of

"And judge," she cried, suddenly lifting herself with a spring and
raising her hand, while lightning flashed from eyes where twenty
chaste years shone--"judge of the impression the love of a man like
Michel must have made upon me. But by some irony of fate--or was it
the hand of God?--well, he died; died in saving the life of, whom do
you suppose? of Monsieur de Cadignan. Are you now surprised to find me

This was the last drop; poor d'Arthez could bear no more. He fell upon
his knees, and laid his head on Diane's hand, weeping soft tears such
as the angels shed,--if angels weep. As Daniel was in that bent
posture, Madame de Cadignan could safely let a malicious smile of
triumph flicker on her lips, a smile such as the monkeys wear after
playing a sly trick--if monkeys smile.

"Ah! I have him," thought she; and, indeed, she had him fast.

"But you are--" he said, raising his fine head and looking at her with
eyes of love.

"Virgin and martyr," she replied, smiling at the commonness of that
hackneyed expression, but giving it a freshness of meaning by her
smile, so full of painful gayety. "If I laugh," she continued, "it is
that I am thinking of that princess whom the world thinks it knows,
that Duchesse de Maufrigneuse to whom it gives as lovers de Marsay,
that infamous de Trailles (a political cutthroat), and that little
fool of a d'Esgrignon, and Rastignac, Rubempre, ambassadors,
ministers, Russian generals, heaven knows who! all Europe! They have
gossiped about that album which I ordered made, believing that those
who admired me were my friends. Ah! it is frightful! I wonder that I
allow a man at my feet! Despise them all, THAT should be my religion."

She rose and went to the window with a gait and bearing magnificent in

D'Arthez remained on the low seat to which he had returned not daring
to follow the princess; but he looked at her; he heard her blowing her
nose. Was there ever a princess who blew her nose? but Diane attempted
the impossible to convey an idea of her sensibility. D'Arthez believed
his angel was in tears; he rushed to her side, took her round the
waist, and pressed her to his heart.

"No, no, leave me!" she murmured in a feeble voice. "I have too many
doubts to be good for anything. To reconcile me with life is a task
beyond the powers of any man."

"Diane! I will love you for your whole lost life."

"No; don't speak to me thus," she answered. "At this moment I tremble,
I am ashamed as though I had committed the greatest sins."

She was now entirely restored to the innocence of little girls, and
yet her bearing was august, grand, noble as that of a queen. It is
impossible to describe the effect of these manoeuvres, so clever that
they acted like the purest truth on a soul as fresh and honest as that
of d'Arthez. The great author remained dumb with admiration, passive
beside her in the recess of that window awaiting a word, while the
princess awaited a kiss; but she was far too sacred to him for that.
Feeling cold, the princess returned to her easy-chair; her feet were

"It will take a long time," she said to herself, looking at Daniel's
noble brow and head.

"Is this a woman?" thought that profound observer of human nature.
"How ought I to treat her?"

Until two o'clock in the morning they spent their time in saying to
each other the silly things that women of genius, like the princess,
know how to make adorable. Diane pretended to be too worn, too old,
too faded; D'Arthez proved to her (facts of which she was well
convinced) that her skin was the most delicate, the softest to the
touch, the whitest to the eye, the most fragrant; she was young and in
her bloom, how could she think otherwise? Thus they disputed, beauty
by beauty, detail by detail with many: "Oh! do you think so?"--"You
are beside yourself!"--"It is hope, it is fancy!"--"You will soon see
me as I am.--I am almost forty years of age. Can a man love so old a

D'Arthez responded with impetuous and school-boy eloquence, larded
with exaggerated epithets. When the princess heard this wise and witty
writer talking the nonsense of an amorous sub-lieutenant she listened
with an absorbed air and much sensibility; but she laughed in her

When d'Arthez was in the street, he asked himself whether he might not
have been rather less respectful. He went over in memory those strange
confidences--which have, naturally, been much abridged here, for they
needed a volume to convey their mellifluous abundance and the graces
which accompanied them. The retrospective perspicacity of this man, so
natural, so profound, was baffled by the candor of that tale and its
poignancy, and by the tones of the princess.

"It is true," he said to himself, being unable to sleep, "there are
such dramas as that in society. Society covers great horrors with the
flowers of its elegance, the embroidery of its gossip, the wit of its
lies. We writers invent no more than the truth. Poor Diane! Michel had
penetrated that enigma; he said that beneath her covering of ice there
lay volcanoes! Bianchon and Rastignac were right; when a man can join
the grandeurs of the ideal and the enjoyments of human passion in
loving a woman of perfect manners, of intellect, of delicacy, it must
be happiness beyond words."

So thinking, he sounded the love that was in him and found it



The next day, about two in the afternoon, Madame d'Espard, who had
seen and heard nothing of the princess for more than a month, went to
see her under the impulse of extreme curiosity. Nothing was ever more
amusing of its kind than the conversation of these two crafty adders
during the first half-hour of this visit.

Diane d'Uxelles cautiously avoided, as she would the wearing of a
yellow gown, all mention of d'Arthez. The marquise circled round and
round that topic like a Bedouin round a caravan. Diane amused herself;
the marquise fumed. Diane waited; she intended to utilize her friend
and use her in the chase. Of these two women, both so celebrated in
the social world, one was far stronger than the other. The princess
rose by a head above the marquise, and the marquise was inwardly
conscious of that superiority. In this, perhaps, lay the secret of
their intimacy. The weaker of the two crouched low in her false
attachment, watching for the hour, long awaited by feeble beings, of
springing at the throat of the stronger and leaving the mark of a
joyful bite. Diane saw clear; but the world was the dupe of the wile
caresses of the two friends.

The instant that the princess perceived a direct question on the lips
of her friend, she said:--

"Ah! dearest, I owe you a most complete, immense, infinite, celestial

"What can you mean?"

"Have you forgotten what we ruminated three months ago in the little
garden, sitting on a bench in the sun, under the jasmine? Ah! there
are none but men of genius who know how to love! I apply to my grand
Daniel d'Arthez the Duke of Alba's saying to Catherine de' Medici:
'The head of a single salmon is worth all the frogs in the world.'"

"I am not surprised that I no longer see you," said Madame d'Espard.

"Promise me, if you meet him, not to say to him one word about me, my
angel," said the princess, taking her friend's hand. "I am happy, oh!
happy beyond all expression; but you know that in society a word, a
mere jest can do much harm. One speech can kill, for they put such
venom into a single sentence! Ah! if you knew how I long that you
might meet with a love like this! Yes, it is a sweet, a precious
triumph for women like ourselves to end our woman's life in this way;
to rest in an ardent, pure, devoted, complete and absolute love; above
all, when we have sought it long."

"Why do you ask me to be faithful to my dearest friend?" said Madame
d'Espard. "Do you think me capable of playing you some villainous

"When a woman possesses such a treasure the fear of losing it is so
strong that it naturally inspires a feeling of terror. I am absurd, I
know; forgive me, dear."

A few moments later the marquise departed; as she watched her go the
princess said to herself:--

"How she will pluck me! But to save her the trouble of trying to get
Daniel away from here I'll send him to her."

At three o'clock, or a few moments after, d'Arthez arrived. In the
midst of some interesting topic on which he was discoursing
eloquently, the princess suddenly cut him short by laying her hand on
his arm.

"Pardon me, my dear friend," she said, interrupting him, "but I fear I
may forget a thing which seems a mere trifle but may be of great
importance. You have not set foot in Madame d'Espard's salon since the
ever-blessed day when I met you there. Pray go at once; not for your
sake, nor by way of politeness, but for me. You may already have made
her an enemy of mine, if by chance she has discovered that since her
dinner you have scarcely left my house. Besides, my friend, I don't
like to see you dropping your connection with society, and neglecting
your occupations and your work. I should again be strangely
calumniated. What would the world say? That I held you in leading-
strings, absorbed you, feared comparisons, and clung to my conquest
knowing it to be my last! Who will know that you are my friend, my
only friend? If you love me indeed, as you say you love me, you will
make the world believe that we are purely and simply brother and
sister-- Go on with what you were saying."

In his armor of tenderness, riveted by the knowledge of so many
splendid virtues, d'Arthez obeyed this behest on the following day and
went to see Madame d'Espard, who received him with charming coquetry.
The marquise took very good care not to say a single word to him about
the princess, but she asked him to dinner on a coming day.

On this occasion d'Arthez found a numerous company. The marquise had
invited Rastignac, Blondet, the Marquis d'Ajuda-Pinto, Maxime de
Trailles, the Marquis d'Esgrignon, the two brothers Vandenesse, du
Tillet, one of the richest bankers in Paris, the Baron de Nucingen,
Raoul Nathan, Lady Dudley, two very treacherous secretaries of
embassies and the Chevalier d'Espard, the wiliest person in this
assemblage and the chief instigator of his sister-in-law's policy.

When dinner was well under way, Maxime de Trailles turned to d'Arthez
and said smiling:--

"You see a great deal, don't you, of the Princesse de Cadignan?"

To this question d'Arthez responded by curtly nodding his head. Maxime
de Trailles was a "bravo" of the social order, without faith or law,
capable of everything, ruining the women who trusted him, compelling
them to pawn their diamonds to give him money, but covering this
conduct with a brilliant varnish; a man of charming manners and
satanic mind. He inspired all who knew him with equal contempt and
fear; but as no one was bold enough to show him any sentiments but
those of the utmost courtesy he saw nothing of this public opinion, or
else he accepted and shared the general dissimulation. He owed to the
Comte de Marsay the greatest degree of elevation to which he could
attain. De Marsay, whose knowledge of Maxime was of long-standing,
judged him capable of fulfilling certain secret and diplomatic
functions which he confided to him and of which de Trailles acquitted
himself admirably. D'Arthez had for some time past mingled
sufficiently in political matters to know the man for what he was, and
he alone had sufficient strength and height of character to express
aloud what others thought or said in a whisper.

"Is it for her that you neglect the Chamber?" asked Baron de Nucingen
in his German accent.

"Ah! the princess is one of the most dangerous women a man can have
anything to do with. I owe to her the miseries of my marriage,"
exclaimed the Marquis d'Esgrignon.

"Dangerous?" said Madame d'Espard. "Don't speak so of my nearest
friend. I have never seen or known anything in the princess that did
not seem to come from the noblest sentiments."

"Let the marquis say what he thinks," cried Rastignac. "When a man has
been thrown by a fine horse he thinks it has vices and he sells it."

Piqued by these words, the Marquis d'Esgrignon looked at d'Arthez and

"Monsieur is not, I trust, on such terms with the princess that we
cannot speak freely of her?"

D'Arthez kept silence. D'Esgrignon, who was not wanting in cleverness,
replied to Rastignac's speech with an apologetic portrait of the
princess, which put the whole table in good humor. As the jest was
extremely obscure to d'Arthez he leaned towards his neighbor, Madame
de Montcornet, and asked her, in a whisper, what it meant.

"Excepting yourself--judging by the excellent opinion you seem to have
of the princess--all the other guests are said to have been in her
good graces."

"I can assure you that such an accusation is absolutely false," said

"And yet, here is Monsieur d'Esgrignon of an old family of Alencon,
who completely ruined himself for her some twelve years ago, and, if
all is true, came very near going to the scaffold."

"I know the particulars of that affair," said d'Arthez. "Madame de
Cadignan went to Alencon to save Monsieur d'Esgrignon from a trial
before the court of assizes; and this is how he rewards her to-day!"

Madame de Montcornet looked at d'Arthez with a surprise and curiosity
that were almost stupid, then she turned her eyes on Madame d'Espard
with a look which seemed to say: "He is bewitched!"

During this short conversation Madame de Cadignan was protected by
Madame d'Espard, whose protection was like that of the lightning-rod
which draws the flash. When d'Arthez returned to the general
conversation Maxime de Trailles was saying:--

"With Diane, depravity is not an effect but a cause; perhaps she owes
that cause to her exquisite nature; she doesn't invent, she makes no
effort, she offers you the choicest refinements as the inspiration of
a spontaneous and naive love; and it is absolutely impossible not to
believe her."

This speech, which seemed to have been prepared for a man of
d'Arthez's stamp, was so tremendous an arraignment that the company
appeared to accept it as a conclusion. No one said more; the princess
was crushed. D'Arthez looked straight at de Trailles and then at
d'Esgrignon with a sarcastic air, and said:--

"The greatest fault of that woman is that she has followed in the wake
of men. She squanders patrimonies as they do; she drives her lovers to
usurers; she pockets "dots"; she ruins orphans; she inspires, possibly
she commits, crimes, but--"

Never had the two men, whom d'Arthez was chiefly addressing, listened
to such plain talk. At that BUT the whole table was startled, every
one paused, fork in air, their eyes fixed alternately on the brave
author and on the assailants of the princess, awaiting the conclusion
of that horrible silence.

"But," said d'Arthez, with sarcastic airiness, "Madame la Princesse de
Cadignan has one advantage over men: when they have put themselves in
danger for her sake, she saves them, and says no harm of any one.
Among the multitude, why shouldn't there be one woman who amuses
herself with men as men amuse themselves with women? Why not allow the
fair sex to take, from time to time, its revenge?"

"Genius is stronger than wit," said Blondet to Nathan.

This broadside of sarcasms was in fact the discharge of a battery of
cannons against a platoon of musketry. When coffee was served, Blondet
and Nathan went up to d'Arthez with an eagerness no one else dared to
imitate, so unable were the rest of the company to show the admiration
his conduct inspired from the fear of making two powerful enemies.

"This is not the first time we have seen that your character equals
your talent in grandeur," said Blondet. "You behaved just now more
like a demi-god than a man. Not to have been carried away by your
heart or your imagination, not to have taken up the defence of a
beloved woman--a fault they were enticing you to commit, because it
would have given those men of society eaten up with jealousy of your
literary fame a triumph over you--ah! give me leave to say you have
attained the height of private statesmanship."

"Yes, you are a statesman," said Nathan. "It is as clever as it is
difficult to avenge a woman without defending her."

"The princess is one of those heroines of the legitimist party, and it
is the duty of all men of honor to protect her quand meme," replied
d'Arthez, coldly. "What she has done for the cause of her masters
would excuse all follies."

"He keeps his own counsel!" said Nathan to Blondet.

"Precisely as if the princess were worth it," said Rastignac, joining
the other two.

D'Arthez went to the princess, who was awaiting him with the keenest
anxiety. The result of this experiment, which Diane had herself
brought about, might be fatal to her. For the first time in her life
this woman suffered in her heart. She knew not what she should do in
case d'Arthez believed the world which spoke the truth, instead of
believing her who lied; for never had so noble a nature, so complete a
man, a soul so pure, a conscience so ingenuous come beneath her hand.
Though she had told him cruel lies she was driven to do so by the
desire of knowing a true love. That love--she felt it dawning in her
heart; yes, she loved d'Arthez; and now she was condemned forever to
deceive him! She must henceforth remain to him the actress who had
played that comedy to blind his eyes.

When she heard Daniel's step in the dining-room a violent commotion, a
shudder which reached to her very vitals came over her. That
convulsion, never felt during all the years of her adventurous
existence, told her that she had staked her happiness on this issue.
Her eyes, gazing into space, took in the whole of d'Arthez's person;
their light poured through his flesh, she read his soul; suspicion had
not so much as touched him with its bat's-wing. The terrible emotion
of that fear then came to its reaction; joy almost stifled her; for
there is no human being who is not more able to endure grief than to
bear extreme felicity.

"Daniel, they have calumniated me, and you have avenged me!" she
cried, rising, and opening her arms to him.

In the profound amazement caused by these words, the roots of which
were utterly unknown to him, Daniel allowed his hand to be taken
between her beautiful hands, as the princess kissed him sacredly on
the forehead.

"But," he said, "how could you know--"

"Oh! illustrious ninny! do you not see that I love you fondly?"

Since that day nothing has been said of the Princess de Cadignan, nor
of d'Arthez. The princess has inherited some fortune from her mother
and she spends all her summers in a villa on the lake of Geneva, where
the great writer joins her. She returns to Paris for a few months in
winter. D'Arthez is never seen except in the Chamber. His writings are
becoming exceedingly rare. Is this a conclusion? Yes, for people of
sense; no, for persons who want to know everything.


The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.

Ajuda-Pinto, Marquis Miguel d'
Father Goriot
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Arthez, Daniel d'
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Letters of Two Brides
The Member for Arcis

Bianchon, Horace
Father Goriot
The Atheist's Mass
Cesar Birotteau
The Commission in Lunacy
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Bachelor's Establishment
The Government Clerks
A Study of Woman
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Seamy Side of History
The Magic Skin
A Second Home
A Prince of Bohemia
Letters of Two Brides
The Muse of the Department
The Imaginary Mistress
The Middle Classes
Cousin Betty
The Country Parson
In addition, M. Bianchon narrated the following:
Another Study of Woman
La Grande Breteche

Blondet, Emile
Jealousies of a Country Town
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Modeste Mignon
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve
The Firm of Nucingen
The Peasantry

Blondet, Virginie
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Peasantry
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Another Study of Woman
The Member for Arcis
A Daughter of Eve

Cadignan, Prince de
Modeste Mignon

Chrestien, Michel
A Bachelor's Establishment
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris

Cinq-Cygne, Laurence, Comtesse (afterwards Marquise de)
The Gondreville Mystery
The Seamy Side of History
The Member for Arcis

Dudley, Lady Arabella
The Lily of the Valley
The Ball at Sceaux
The Magic Skin
A Daughter of Eve
Letters of Two Brides

Esgrignon, Victurnien, Comte (then Marquis d')
Jealousies of a Country Town
Letters of Two Brides
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty

Espard, Chevalier d'
The Commission in Lunacy
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Espard, Jeanne-Clementine-Athenais de Blamont-Chauvry, Marquise d'
The Commission in Lunacy
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Letters of Two Brides
Another Study of Woman
The Gondreville Mystery
A Daughter of Eve

Galathionne, Prince and Princess (both not in each story)
The Middle Classes
Father Goriot
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Daughter of Eve

Giraud, Leon
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Bachelor's Establishment
The Unconscious Humorists

Marsay, Henri de
The Thirteen
The Unconscious Humorists
Another Study of Woman
The Lily of the Valley
Father Goriot
Jealousies of a Country Town
Ursule Mirouet
A Marriage Settlement
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Letters of Two Brides
The Ball at Sceaux
Modest Mignon
The Gondreville Mystery
A Daughter of Eve

Maufrigneuse, Duc de
A Start in Life
A Bachelor's Establishment
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Maufrigneuse, Duchesse de
Modeste Mignon
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Muse of the Department
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Letters of Two Brides
Another Study of Woman
The Gondreville Mystery
The Member for Arcis

Maufrigneuse, Georges de
The Gondreville Mystery
The Member for Arcis

Mirbel, Madame de
Letters of Two Brides
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Nathan, Raoul
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
A Daughter of Eve
Letters of Two Brides
The Seamy Side of History
The Muse of the Department
A Prince of Bohemia
A Man of Business
The Unconscious Humorists

Navarreins, Duc de
A Bachelor's Establishment
Colonel Chabert
The Muse of the Department
The Thirteen
Jealousies of a Country Town
The Peasantry
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Country Parson
The Magic Skin
The Gondreville Mystery
Cousin Betty

Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
The Firm of Nucingen
Father Goriot
Cesar Birotteau
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Another Study of Woman
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty
The Muse of the Department
The Unconscious Humorists

Rastignac, Eugene de
Father Goriot
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
The Ball at Sceaux
The Interdiction
A Study of Woman
Another Study of Woman
The Magic Skin
A Daughter of Eve
The Gondreville Mystery
The Firm of Nucingen
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
The Unconscious Humorists

Rochefide, Marquise de
A Daughter of Eve
A Prince of Bohemia

Tillet, Ferdinand du
Cesar Birotteau
The Firm of Nucingen
The Middle Classes
A Bachelor's Establishment
Melmoth Reconciled
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
A Daughter of Eve
The Member for Arcis
Cousin Betty
The Unconscious Humorists

Toby (Joby, Paddy)
The Firm of Nucingen

Trailles, Comte Maxime de
Cesar Birotteau
Father Goriot
Ursule Mirouet
A Man of Business
The Member for Arcis
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
The Unconscious Humorists

Vandenesse, Comte Felix de
The Lily of the Valley
Lost Illusions
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Cesar Birotteau
Letters of Two Brides
A Start in Life
The Marriage Settlement
Another Study of Woman
The Gondreville Mystery
A Daughter of Eve


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